In the debate over labeling genetically modified foods, each side accuses the other of putting people’s health at risk. At a Chicago hearing over the Illinois Senate bill that would require the label on certain foods, its supporters claimed that the move would help determine what, if any, health risks come with eating these foods. “Without labeling GE (genetically engineered) foods, we can associate any health problems with those who ate them, because we don’t know who ate them,” said Patti Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch.
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Opponents of the bill claim the real goal is to eventually ban genetically modified foods altogether. David Miller, president of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization, says that would mean more people would starve in third world countries. “If they haven’t killed people already, they almost assuredly will kill millions in the years to come,” Miller said over boos from the mostly pro-labeling crowd. State Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria), chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Conservation and sponsor of the bill, ended the hearing by warning both sides to stop spreading misinformation and find some common ground.
“We’re all trying to create a better world,” Koehler said, “but if we don’t have this conversation together and we don’t believe one another, then there’s a big problem.”
The hearing was the third such event held in the state after previous hearings in Normal and Carbondale. Sen. Koehler says the committee will discuss the issue again during the October veto session.